Stephany Wilson and Ting-Yu Yang

More people in the world have access to mobile phone subscriptions than they do to water or toothbrushes…

More UK children aged 7-11 own a mobile phone rather than a book….

These facts set the stage for Stephany Wilson, E-Learning Manager of Sonic, America’s largest chain of drive in restaurants, who spoke on mobile learning at Europe’s Learning Technologies 2013 in London.

Stephany revealed her experiences on how she delivers current, timely, sensitive, relevant product and brand knowledge to Sonic managers across the USA. Sonic has over 3,500 drive-in coast to coast and serves approximately three million customers every day.

We asked Stephany to share her thoughts in a guest blog…..

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At Sonic, we have to disseminate information in the fastest, most effective way to all our store managers to help them do their jobs. When the people you need to find are more likely to be walking around a restaurant than sitting at a computer, reaching them can be tough. For me, the answer was simple: go mobile.

What is it good for?

My first step was to evaluate Sonic’s mobile delivery approach.

We knew managers were not finding all the information they wanted, fast enough, from their paper documentation and we had to avoid that happening on their mobile devices. So, we concentrated on key information needed – for example, new product changes, time-sensitive alerts and reference materials.

Each time Sonic introduces a new food item, we have to make sure that it is produced to the same high standards, consistently, across all our branches. To help support this, we create and edit short videos in-house in our own internal kitchen, made up to resemble a restaurant in every detail. The videos, delivered by mobile, have been so successful that our e-learning team now receives regular emails demanding more.

But our use of mobile delivery goes beyond video. These smart devices are perfect for contacting managers if there is a national or local concern on a food health issue for example when manager need to be updated with the latest information.

Certpoint’s Evelyne Gallagher and Ting-Yu Yang

We’ve also found the mobile devices’ ability to reach rapidly important reference materials invaluable, for instance, nutrition guides listing the calorific value of individual items, or allergy guides reminding managers that peanut oil is used in the preparation of fries.

Platform or application?

The choice was clear to me: knowing that managers would be using a range of different devices, and needed a solution that would deliver to all of them, quickly, I opted for an online platform for web delivery: CERTPOINT System’s K-Tango. It took weeks, rather than months to be developed; content is produced by us and doesn’t rely on vendor back-up; it is device independent not device dependent.

K-Tango allows us to develop and deploy our own videos and resources without any further intervention from CERTPOINT Systems, and without updating or altering the platform.

Maria van Vlodrop and Ara Ohanian join forces with Stephany Wilson and Don Taylor

Simply, we have control. We don’t have programmers, we don’t need any. We can develop and deploy our own content using the drag-and-drop tool integrated into the package.

Getting buy-in

After creating some sample content, we demonstrated the tool to our company’s executives. This step turned what had been abstract support for investigating mobile learning into an enthusiastic solid backing for implementation.

To my delight, our President Omar Janjua wrapped up the meeting by saying: “This will be a game changer for our brand.”

At that point, I knew I had all the buy-in I needed.

Building on success

Now deployed in several hundred stores, Certpoint’s K-Tango mobile learning platform will be extended to the company’s remaining stores in the coming months.

Maria van Vlodrop with Towards Maturity’s Nigel Stally and Giovanna Puma

Managers using the platform have pointed to three key benefits: ease of use, ease of access to information, and speed.

Just one typical comment: “It’s fast and easy access to stuff that helps me with my job.”

Interestingly, few mentioned ‘learning’, because even though they are learning on the job, that is not why the managers use the platform. They use it because it helps them do their jobs better.

As for me, my belief is that we’re here for one reason – to make work better. As long as we’re achieving that, the e-learning team is happy.

Stephany Wilson, E-Learning Manager, Sonic
Stephany can be reached at stephany.wilson@sonicdrivein.com



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